This column is being penned during the holiday season and before you know it, the Hall of Fame ballot results will be out there for everyone to digest and debate. As usual, this will be a contentious decision-making process for the baseball writers and reading through the thoughts of various eligible voters, one thing is clear…nobody agrees on anything! This isn’t surprising because in speaking with scores of fans over the last few months, I’ve found the same can be said of their opinions. From people who would put the maximum of ten players on their imaginary ballot to those who want to make some sort of statement by leaving the ballot blank to everywhere in between. The PED issue has muddied the waters to such an extent, there is no right or wrong answer. The only position that is stupid, is the one where a fan says, “steroids don’t matter that much, you still need to hit the ball.” All those people don’t have the basic math skills to understand that a 370 foot fly ball out becomes a 390 foot Home Run with only a 5% difference in bat speed and strength.
Based on a recent survey utilizing ballots made public early in the process, there seems to be a reasonable chance that a number of players will be elected by the writers in 2018 and despite the feelings of Joe Morgan, that could include the possibility of Barry Bonds & Roger Clemens. Won’t that be great fun for the fans who have already made plans to travel to Cooperstown for induction weekend? With all this as a backdrop, the Old Duck will enter the fray and share with you his mythical Hall of Fame ballot. One thing I know for sure…nobody will agree with me.
> Trevor Hoffman, YES – Got 67.3% in his first year of eligibility and 74% last year, so the 75% threshold should be exceeded Arguably, the second best Closer ever. 601 Saves…let that sink in.
> Vladimir Guerrero, NO – Honestly, I’m somewhat surprised he got 71.7% last year. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 59.3 is less than both Larry Walker & Gary Sheffield.
> Edgar Martinez, YES – The argument against the DH doesn’t hold any more credence than the one against relief pitchers did ten years ago. The best at every position belong in the Hall. His lifetime OPS of .933 is better than Mike Piazza and the WAR of 68 seals the deal. Last year’s vote tally was 58.6% but of the 47 ballots made public at this point, he’s on 39 of them. This is his next to last opportunity.
> Roger Clemens, NO – Yes, he was probably a Hall of Fame player without steroids and yes, he will get in someday, but sometimes you must make a stand. If Robby Alomar had to wait a year for spitting on an umpire, this arrogant jerk should have to wait a few years for each needle-marked cheek. Received 54.1% in 2017.
> Barry Bonds, NO – Same comment as Clemens. Was at 53.8% last year.
> Mike Mussina, YES – This is one of the tougher choices, but the overall numbers are very impressive…270 Wins and a WAR of 83 are both better than Curt Schilling. Now that Jack Morris is in, maybe his body of work will improve last year’s 51.8%.
> Curt Schilling, NO – One of those marginal guys with 216 Wins, his lifetime WAR of 76 is very impressive and higher than many Pitchers already enshrined. While it isn’t fair, his political comments will probably impact the voting. He was behind Mussina last time at 45%.
> Fred McGriff, NO – As time goes on and voters have a chance to digest his numbers prior to the PED era, more consideration will come his way…was at 21.7% in 2017
> Jeff Kent, NO – His credibility has more to do with his position (2B) than his performance. Only got 16.7% last time.
> Larry Walker, NO – Another player who may be more appreciated as the years roll on, but the Colorado factor makes it difficult to determine his real credentials…last year’s number was 21.9%
> Gary Sheffield, NO – His cumulative totals of 509 HR’s and a 60.3 WAR are impressive but they’re watered down by the era in which he played. Also impacted by a lack of fan loyalty because he played for eight different franchises. The 2017 number of 13.3% tells you where he stands.
> Billy Wagner, NO – Had an outstanding career but overshadowed by Rivera, Hoffman and others…received 10.2% last year.
> Sammy Sosa, NO – Got 8.6% of the vote last year…everyone feels he had help. He will, however get more votes than Chico Esquela.
> Manny Ramirez, NO – Surprisingly garnered 23.8% in his first year of eligibility, as he was caught cheating on multiple occasions. Maybe his use of female hormones can get him into the “League of Their Own” wing.
Only three of my ten spots are filled but that seems reasonable. For the record, I’ve never understood writers who make players wait for their vote because they seem to think there’s a difference in “First-Ballot” Hall of Famers. So, two first-timers will also get my vote…
> Chipper Jones, YES – From a personal perspective, I always felt he was slightly over-rated, but the numbers are overwhelming. 2,700+ Hits, 468 HR’s, a .930 lifetime OPS and a WAR of 85.
> Jim Thome, YES – A great power hitter who excelled into his mid-30’s long after PED testing was in place. Clobbered 612 HR’s with a lifetime OPS of .956 and a WAR of 72.9. To clarify how respected he was as an opponent, he had 100+ walks in nine separate seasons. That’s how a power hitter achieves a .402 lifetime OBP.
There’s my ballot…Hoffman, Martinez, Mussina, Jones & Thome. A great class…with great class.